CONNOCK, Richard (1560-1620), of Charing Cross, Westminster and Lillesdon, Som.; later of Calstock, Cornw.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press




Family and Education

bap. 31 May 1560, 4th but 3rd surv. s. of John Connock† (d.1583) of Liskeard, Cornw., mayor and tanner, and Joan, da. of William Rowe of Landrake, Cornw.1 educ. New Inn; M. Temple 1583; called.2 m. Joan (admon. 14 Sept. 1633), da. of Thomas Williams† of Stowford, Devon and wid. of Philip Cole (d.1596) of Slade, Devon and John Buller (admon. 25 Oct. 1599) of Lillesdon, s.p.3 bur. 25 Jan. 1620.4 sig. Richard Connock.

Offices Held

Commr. duchy of Cornw. assessions 1598, 1602,5 sewers, London and Mdx. 1606-8, duchy of Cornw. lands 1607,6 survey, Dartmoor, Devon 1608,7 improvement of forest wastes, Yorks. 1613-at least 1615;8 steward, Alwarton and Penzance manors, Cornw. 1603-4, Calstock manor by 1615-d.,9 under-steward, Liskeard manor, Cornw. 1614-at least 1617,10 Trematon honour (jt.) by 1619;11 assay-master of tin, Devon and Cornw. 1605-7;12 j.p. Cornw. 1609-10, 1611-d.13

Servant of Thomas Sackville†, 1st Bar. of Buckhurst by 1601-at least 1603.14

Auditor, duchy of Cornw. 1603-11; solicitor, Prince Henry’s Household 1604-10, auditor-gen. and solicitor-gen., Prince Henry’s Household 1610-12;15 gent. of privy chamber, extraordinary, Prince Henry’s Household by 1611-12;16 commr. Prince Henry’s ‘causes’ 1612-13.17

Freeman, Merchant Taylors’ Co. from 1607;18 member, N.W. Passage Co. 1612, Virg. Co. 1612-d.19


Connock’s father is said to have been a prosperous tanner from Wiltshire, who settled in Cornwall as a Duchy receiver. Following the Reformation, he acquired a comfortable estate at Liskeard, and served the town as both mayor and MP. As a younger son, Connock could not expect to live off his inheritance, which amounted to just £100, and therefore forged his own career as a lawyer.20 An unexpected opportunity to enhance his fortunes arose in around 1586, when he was employed to represent Joan Harte of Stoke Climsland, Cornwall, a wealthy heiress who was sued for breach of a marriage contract. Before long, Joan consented to marry Connock himself once she was free to do so, an agreement formalized in June 1589, when her dowry was set at £3,000. However, six months later she secretly married a rival suitor, John Harris I*. The jilted Connock vented his rage against Joan by displaying her portrait, embellished with slanderous verses, in his Middle Temple chambers, but he apparently failed to obtain compensation.21

Connock presumably owed his election to Parliament for Bodmin in 1593 to his family’s local standing. His elder brother, John, was deputy feodary of the duchy of Cornwall and an officer in the stannaries, working under (Sir) William Killigrew I* and Sir Walter Ralegh†. Through such connections with central government and the Court, Connock came to the notice of Lord Buckhurst, who selected him in 1595 to serve as his agent in an unsuccessful bid to secure a private patent for the pre-emption of tin.22 In the following year Connock vacated his chambers, probably in order to enter Buckhurst’s service. However, he was back in Cornwall in 1598, renewing tenurial agreements for the Duchy, while two years later he supplied Sir Robert Cecil† with ‘writings’ about lead and silk. Connock’s role in re-negotiating the Crown’s tin pre-emption in 1600 brought him lavish praise in Ralegh’s report to Buckhurst and Cecil: ‘You could not have employed any man, as I think, both for his diligence and knowledge, of more sufficiency.’23

Following James I’s accession, the duchy of Cornwall was designated as a future appanage for Prince Henry, and on Buckhurst’s instructions Connock helped John Doddridge* to compile a tract detailing the historic possessions of the princes of Wales. Since the mid-sixteenth century the Duchy’s revenues had been subsumed within the Exchequer, but in August 1603 Connock was appointed Duchy auditor with a brief to reverse this situation. He secured the post with the backing of the Duchy’s receiver-general, Sir Francis Godolphin†, after agreeing terms with Sir Walter Cope*, who had also been promised the office.24 However, his efforts were immediately obstructed by Nathaniel Fulwer, the Exchequer auditor hitherto responsible for administering the bulk of the Duchy lands, who resented his loss of income, and delayed handing over many of the relevant records. Connock initially tried friendly persuasion, as he needed Fulwer to assist him with the 1603 audit, but in 1605 he obtained a court order to force Fulwer to co-operate.25

Once his position as auditor was secure, Connock steadily expanded his influence, obtaining the Duchy solicitorship in February 1604, which enabled him to conduct legal business relating to revenue matters, and involved him in the recovery of Duchy lands alienated during the previous reign. Connock was also made assay-master in April 1605, a post which he apparently helped to create by drawing attention to abuses within the stannaries, though he surrendered the office after just two years. By 1606 he was acting as principal intermediary between Prince Henry and lord treasurer Dorset (the former Lord Buckhurst), who as yet retained ultimate control over the Duchy administration.26

During 1607 Connock conducted a survey of the Duchy’s land revenues, with an eye to future improvements. Prince Henry wished to take control of his estates as soon as possible, but the government dragged its heels, using the excuse that he was still a minor. Accordingly, in 1609 Connock prepared for him a tract which not only detailed his rightful possessions, but also demonstrated that previous princes had all received their lands by the age of 14. Aware of the sensitive nature of this information, Connock begged the prince to protect him from the king’s displeasure, but in the event James was persuaded to comply with Henry’s wishes. Connock’s researches helped to determine the manner in which Henry was created prince of Wales in 1610, and also assisted in selecting the additional estates which James I bestowed on the prince.27 Henry rewarded Connock’s loyalty by appointing him as his auditor-general, which gave him oversight of all the prince’s revenues and made him effectively the paymaster of his Household. He also secured a place on the Prince’s Council, though his influence over policy may have been limited; in 1611 he opposed on legal grounds the revocation of the current tin monopoly, but was overruled.28

By now, Connock was relatively wealthy. His service under Elizabeth had been rewarded in December 1604 with an annual pension of £100, while his marriage had brought him the use of a substantial estate in Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, which attracted a subsidy assessment of £20 in 1610.29 During his first few years as a Duchy official his expenses tended to exceed his official allowance, not least because the solicitorship carried no fee. However, as his influence grew, so did his income. He made over £1,000 from his brief tenure as assay-master, and in around 1608 he secured a similar sum as a refund of his costs as solicitor. From 1610 his official fees were increased to £370 p.a., but his annual profit as auditor-general and solicitor-general may actually have exceeded £1,000.30 Connock also used his position and resources to build up a personal estate in Cornwall, principally at Liskeard and Calstock, through both purchase and Crown grants. By August 1611 he was sufficiently confident of his financial prospects to relinquish the time-consuming Duchy auditorship to his wife’s cousin, William Hockmore*, despite the concomitant loss of £240 a year in fees.31

As a leading servant of the heir to the throne, Connock enjoyed a high profile in London, where he leased a house at Charing Cross, conveniently close to Whitehall Palace. By 1611 he belonged to the exclusive dining society which met at the Mitre tavern, whose members included not only colleagues in Prince Henry’s Household, like Inigo Jones* and Sir Robert Phelips*, but also such future luminaries as John Donne* and Sir Lionel Cranfield*.32 At Liskeard, which belonged to the duchy of Cornwall, Connock was now treated with great respect, and he was finally able to exact a measure of revenge on his former marital rival, John Harris, who was attempting to control the borough’s corporation by manipulating the mayoral elections. In 1612 Harris’s main opponent, John Hunkin, appealed to Connock for a review of Liskeard’s charter. In his capacity as Duchy solicitor, Connock duly summoned Harris and his allies to London, and in their absence Hunkin had himself installed as mayor.33

Despite such confident behaviour, by April 1612 Connock was once more becoming concerned at the scale of his financial commitments, and the underlying fragility of his position was exposed when Prince Henry suddenly died seven months later. His posts of auditor-general and solicitor-general, his principal sources of income, had been granted during pleasure only, and now ceased to exist. Connock’s subsequent reluctance to hand over his official papers indicates his frustration at the turn of events, and he only completed his final task, the winding up of the prince’s estate, in December 1613.34 By then he had succeeded in finding alternative employment, for in May 1613, at the request of the lord privy seal, the earl of Northampton, Connock produced a report on the proposed enclosure and improvement of the royal waste at Knaresborough Forest, Yorkshire. While embracing the virtues of enclosure, this study showed an acute awareness of the likely pitfalls involved, and recommended that a commission should be set up to handle the scheme locally. Three months later, Connock was himself named to this commission. Many of his concerns proved justified, and local opposition caused the project to founder in 1616.35

In early 1614 Connock was elected to Parliament for Liskeard, presumably with the full backing of the mayor, one of John Hunkin’s principal allies.36 With eight recorded speeches and three committee nominations to his name, Connock made a minor but distinctive contribution to the Commons’ proceedings. His specialist knowledge of Cornish affairs proved particularly helpful. On 6 May, during the debate on the bill to ease the passing of sheriffs’ accounts, he commented on the procedure used in the case of Cornwall’s sheriffs, who came under the aegis of the duchy of Cornwall. Moreover, when the bill against false weights and measures was discussed on 18 May, he requested special consideration of practices in the Cornish stannaries, and was duly named to the bill committee. Connock’s general administrative experience explains his appointment on 18 Apr. to the legislative committee concerned with the repeal of the Henrican statute on Welsh ordinances. As a Crown servant it is not surprising that he dismissed the rumours circulating about a secret undertaking to manage the Commons and advised the House to overcome its distrust (12 April). He contributed to the debate on impositions six days later, but his views were not recorded.37 Unsympathetic towards the Sabbath observance bill, Connock insisted on 7 May that sheriffs must not be hindered from making arrests on Sundays, and was nominated to the committee. He argued on 17 May for lenient treatment of a fellow member of the Mitre circle, Richard Martin*, whose outburst on his appearance as counsel for the Virginia Company offended the House. On 31 May he moved for the burgesses returned in the second Stockbridge election to be brought into the House; the fact that one of these men was Sir Walter Cope, his sometime rival for the duchy auditorship, may explain his intervention. Later that day, he moved that the Commons’ latest message of complaint to the Lords about the bishop of Lincoln’s attack on the House should be delivered in writing, but he was overruled.38

In December 1614 Connock purchased from the Crown several more Cornish properties, including the site of Launceston Priory. He mostly now resided at Calstock, and as steward of the local manor he engaged in a relaxed correspondence with his cousin Hockmore, his successor as Duchy auditor. Connock was employed with Hockmore in July 1616 to review tenancy agreements, but he was increasingly treated like the minor official he now was, and in 1617 suffered the indignity of being presented for encroachment on the Duchy waste at Calstock.39 To make matters worse he was also in financial difficulties. In about 1614 he had borrowed £1,000 from his former Duchy colleague Sir Richard Smythe*, probably in connection with the Launceston Priory purchase, and was now unable to clear the debt, even though James I presented him with 1,000 marks in March 1617. In the following July, Connock mortgaged the priory and some other properties to Smythe, and was re-negotiating the mortgage agreement in December 1619 when he was taken ill in London.40

Connock’s will, drawn up on 11 Dec. 1619, sheds considerable light on his lifestyle and aspirations. In addition to his lodgings in London, where he stored his law books, he maintained households at both Lillesdon, his wife’s home, and Calstock, where he apparently occupied the parsonage. Connock owned at least seven paintings, mostly of religious or philosophical subjects such as the Sacrifice of Isaac and ‘cruel Time demonstrated by all ages’, though one was a full-length portrait of Prince Henry. These he seems to have kept at Calstock, along with a viol, an Irish harp, a wind instrument and his best virginals, which were Venetian and ‘covered with crimson velvet being sometime the virginals of the late Queen Eliz[abeth]’. At Lillesdon he stored his other virginals, ‘a choice instrument for sweetness’, a collection of bibles and prayer books, and the bulk of his silverware, including 13 ‘great silver spoons with pictures and images at the end’. His clothing bequests indicate a predilection for glossy black fabrics, though his Calstock wardrobe also included a doublet of straw-coloured cut leather and a perfumed Spanish leather jerkin trimmed with gold and silken lace. Connock’s legatees included his near neighbours Sir Thomas Wise* and Sir Richard Buller*, but being childless he was principally concerned to provide for his eldest brother’s family. Determined that one of his great-nephews, preferably his namesake Richard Connock, should complete a legal training, he provided funding accordingly, on strict conditions. His nephew John, whom he had earlier helped to office as a duchy of Cornwall feodary and customer of Plymouth, was offered Calstock’s household goods and silverware, but only if he built a house there, for which purpose Connock left him £200. The intention of perpetuating his memory was spelt out most clearly in Connock’s minutely detailed instructions for almshouses to be constructed on the Launceston Priory estate, to be called ‘the hospital of Richard Connock esq., servant and officer of the revenues of Prince Henry’. Besides the usual concern that the occupants should be ‘decent, cleanly poor people and impotent’, Connock provided for them to attend the parish church twice daily, and regulated even their bodily functions, with legalistic penalties for designated offences. Management of the hospital was entrusted to three local mayors, and a full accounting procedure was laid down.41

Connock died in London, probably early in the New Year, and was buried on 25 Jan. 1620 at St. Martin-in-the-Fields. His will was unsuccessfully contested by his widow, who, though bequeathed a coach and silverware, found herself obliged to purchase Lillesdon’s household goods from his executors.42 In fact, the scale of Connock’s debts prevented the fulfilment of his intentions. Smythe attempted to reach a deal with John Connock, but arguments developed over the title to Connock’s lands, and a final settlement was concluded only in 1650.43 Connock’s hospital was never built. His family was next represented in Parliament by his great-great-nephew John Connock, who sat for Liskeard in 1660.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Paul Hunneyball


  • 1. Vis. Cornw. (Harl. Soc. ix), 46; Cornw. RO, P126/1/1, pp. 53, 57, 176, 186.
  • 2. M. Temple Admiss.
  • 3. Vivian, Vis. Devon, 214, 789; PROB 11/164, f. 184; PROB 6/6, f. 27.
  • 4. St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London (Harl. Soc. Reg. lxvi), 156.
  • 5. DCO, ‘Duchy servants’, 61.
  • 6. C181/2, ff. 20v, 34; Lansd. 168, f. 152.
  • 7. T. Westcote, Devonshire, 82-3.
  • 8. C66/1993, 2078.
  • 9. DCO, ‘Letters and Warrants, 1615-19’, ff. 11v, 255.
  • 10. SC2/160/43-4.
  • 11. Antony House, Cornw. BO/21/1A.
  • 12. C66/1667.
  • 13. C66/1822, 1897-8, 2174.
  • 14. CLRO, Reps. 25, f. 196v; J. Doddridge, Hist. of ... Principality of Wales (1630), dedication.
  • 15. C66/1629, 1888; DCO, ‘Duchy servants’, 61, 137.
  • 16. SP14/67/147; SP46/69, f. 205.
  • 17. E315/76, f. 50; AO1/2021/3, unfol.
  • 18. Memorials of Merchant Taylors’ Co. ed. C.M. Clode, 160.
  • 19. T.K. Rabb, Enterprise and Empire, 269; Recs. Virg. Co. ed. S. M. Kingsbury, iii. 82, 322.
  • 20. HP Commons, 1509-58, i. 682-3; C. S. Gilbert, Hist. Survey of Cornw. ii. 79; J. Allen, Liskeard, 37, 59; Cornw. RO, CM 182, 245, 257, 1592.
  • 21. STAC 5/C2/15; 5/H44/32; 5/H54/9.
  • 22. Cornw. RO, CM 1584; APC, 1591-2, p. 11; HMC Hatfield, v. 175; G.R. Lewis, Stannaries, 145.
  • 23. MTR, 370; HMC Hatfield, ix. 311; x. 374-5, 442.
  • 24. Doddridge, dedication; G. Haslam, ‘Eliz. Duchy of Cornw.’, Estates of Eng. Crown ed. R.W. Hoyle, 93; SP14/5/30.
  • 25. SP46/67, ff. 34-5; E306/11/11.
  • 26. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 75; Harl. 7007, ff. 72, 80; C66/1667.
  • 27. Harl. 7007, ff. 82, 151; DCO, ‘Prince Henry and Prince Charles vol. ii’, ff. 1- 20; P. Croft, ‘Parl. Installation of Henry, Prince of Wales’, HR, lxv. 181.
  • 28. G. Haslam, ‘Jacobean Phoenix’, Estates of Eng. Crown, 270, 287; HMC 7th Rep. 670; HMC Portland, ix. 51.
  • 29. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 181; C2/Jas.I/C21/18; C78/314/3; E179/171/345.
  • 30. Harl. 7007, f. 80; Cornw. RO, ME 1980; Haslam, ‘Jacobean Phoenix’, 270, n. 22.
  • 31. C66/1705; E315/76, f. 20; SP46/69, f. 205; Cornw. RO, CM 220; ME 1980; Vivian, 472.
  • 32. Cornw. RO, CM 1592; CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 72; M. Prestwich, Cranfield, 93, 96.
  • 33. Cornw. RO, B/LIS/269-70; STAC 8/164/10.
  • 34. Cornw. RO, CM/1592; DCO, ‘Letters and Warrants 1615-19’, ff. 10v, 44v; HMC 11th Rep. vii. 242.
  • 35. LR2/194, ff. 34-6v; R. W. Hoyle, ‘Disafforestation and drainage’, Estates of Eng. Crown, 364-6.
  • 36. J. Allen, Liskeard, 257; STAC 8/164/10. One contemporary list of MPs (Lansd. 1191) states that Connock was also elected at Bodmin in 1614, but this is not supported by other, more reliable lists: Procs. 1614 (Commons), 447, 451.
  • 37. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 66, 98, 101, 164, 281, 284.
  • 38. Ibid. 172, 273, 390, 397; CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 72; LJ, ii. 711a.
  • 39. C66/2024/9; E306/12, box 2, bdle. 24, no. 17; DCO, ‘Letters and Warrants 1615-19’, ff. 11v, 39v-40, 255; E306/4/6, f. 3.
  • 40. C2/Jas.I/B35/59; E403/2736, p. 137.
  • 41. PROB 11/135, ff. 107-11; Harl. 7007, f. 82; SP14/36/52, f. 1v.
  • 42. Ibid. 11/164, ff. 183v.
  • 43. C2/Jas.I/B35/59; J. Polsue, Complete Paroch. Hist. of Cornw. iii. 78.